11 Aug 2006

Fiji hoteliers reject comments by lands ministerl

8:11 am on 11 August 2006

Fiji's biggest industry, tourism, has warned the government that hoteliers could leave and set up in another country if they are not welcome in Fiji.

The warning follows the lands minister, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu's remarks in parliament that hoteliers opposed to the government's Qoliqoli or Traditional Fishing Grounds Bill were extremists.

The lands minister also said if some hoteliers cannot respect Fiji's laws and the way Fijians feel about their culture and traditions, then Fiji is not the place for them to invest and live in.

In a strongly worded statement, the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association says hotels and resorts are the biggest component of Fiji's tourism industry and they do not deserve this kind of treatment.

Radio Legend quotes the association's chief executive, Mere Korovavala, as saying the minister's remarks are childish and irresponsible, and he should speak with the minister of finance before talking about expelling hoteliers from Fiji.

Ms Korovavala says Fiji's economy might not be able to adjust to the effects of such comments on potential investors.